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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics: Top-5 most decorated Paralympians

USA's Trischa Zorn
USA's Trischa Zorn
Prakhar Sachdeo
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The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics are going to be the best ever in terms of sporting spectacle and would leave an everlasting impression on Japanese society, so believes Andrew Parsons, the President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Andrew Parsons's vision is nearing fulfillment as Japan's capital will welcome around 4,350 Para athletes from more than 160 countries. These athletes will be sweating hard for 540 gold medals across 22 sports.

Before we look forward to what can be expected at the Tokyo Olympics, it would be correct to look back a bit and recall the champion Paralympians from the years gone by.

Five most decorated athletes in Paralympics history

Michael Edgson

Michael Edgson in center (credits: Jason D Beck Twitter)
Michael Edgson in center (credits: Jason D Beck Twitter)

Michael Edgson, a visually impaired para-swimmer, is one of Canada's most successful athletes. Michael Edgson participated in three Paralympics from 1984 to 1992. In that span Michael Edgson won a total of 21 medals (18 gold medals and 3 silver medals).

With a rich haul of 21 medals from three Paralympic Games, Michael Edgson is the most decorated Paralympic athlete in Canadian history, and, ranks fifth on the list of the most decorated Paralympic athletes.

Michael Edgson's won five golds and three silvers and broke four world records in his maiden appearance at the Paralympic Games. When he next turned up for the Summer Paralympic Games, the 1988 Paralympics hosted by Seoul, it proved to be his best ever games, where he clinched nine gold medals and broke four world records.

In his final Paralympic Games appearance at Barcelona, Michael Edgson finished off with four gold medals and one silver while breaking a world record.

Reinhild Moeller

Reinhild Moeller
Reinhild Moeller

Germany's Reinhild Moeller holds the unique distinction of being the only para-athelete in this list to have participated in the Summer Paralympics and the Winter Paralympics. As a child she lost half of her left leg in an accident.

Reinhild Moeller was primarily an alpine ski racer. She participated in seven winter Paralympics (1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2006) and two summer Paralympics (1984 and 1988).

Over the course of nine Olympic appearances, Reinhild Moeller won 23 medals (19 golds, 3 silvers and 1 bronze). Her 23 medals put her fourth on the list of the most-decorated Paralympians.

For her constant success, Reinhild Moeller became the first para-athlete to earn $1 million via sponsorship contracts.

Also read: Refugee Paralympic Team for Tokyo 2020-Overcoming adversities in style

Béatrice Hess

Beatrice Hess of France
Beatrice Hess of France

France's Beatrice Hess is regarded as one of the best para-swimmers in the world. She suffers from cerebral palsy.

The swimmer is a veteran of five Summer Paralympic Games (1984, 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2004). Over the span of these five Olympics, Beatrice Hess won 25 medals (20 golds and 5 silvers).

Beatrice Hess is remembered for her stunning showing at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, where she broke nine world records in swimming.

At the peak of her career, Beatrice Hess wanted to be compared with legendary swimmer Ian Thorpe.

"I want to be remembered in Paralympic history - you have Ian Thorpe, why not Beatrice Hess?" she had said at the Sydney Paralympics.

Ragnhild Myklebust

Ragnhild Myklebust of Norway at Paralympic Cross-Country
Ragnhild Myklebust of Norway at Paralympic Cross-Country

Ragnhild Myklebust of Norway has won the most medals at the Winter Paralympics. Ragnhild Myklebust suffered from polio at an early age. She is second on the list of the most decorated Paralympians.

Ragnhild Myklebust has appeared in 5 Winter Paralympics (1988, 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2002). Over the five Winter Games, the Paralympian has participated in biathlon, cross-country skiing and ice sledging racing.

She has 27 Paralympic medals (22 golds, three silvers and three bronze) to her name. She also holds the distinction of winning 16 cross-country titles, the most for any skier.

Trischa Zorn

Trischa Zorn of USA
Trischa Zorn of USA

With a staggering 57 medals (41 golds, 9 silvers and 5 bronze), USA's Trischa Zorn is the most decorated Paralympian ever. Trischa Zorn has three more medals than the combined tally of Beatrice Hess and Ragnhild Myklebust. That is how rich Trischa Zorn's medal tally is at the Paralympics.

Trischa Zorn suffered from blindness from her birth.

This doyen has participated in seven Paralympics (1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004). Trischa Zorn is best remembered for her show at the 1996 Atlanta Games, where she was decorated with more medals than any other para-athlete. In Atlanta, Trischa Zorn clinched eight medals (2 golds, 3 silvers and 3 bronze).

The champion swimmer had also topped the individual medal tally for the 1992 Barcelona Games, where she won 10 medals (8 golds and 2 silvers).

Such was Trischa Zorn's dominance in the pool that after the Sydney Paralympics, she had eight world records to her name. Trischa Zorn created world records in 50m backstroke, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 200m individual medley, 400m individual medley, 200m breaststroke, 4×50m medley relay and 4×50m free relay.

Rightfully then, in 2012, Trischa Zorn was inducted into the Paralymic Hall of Fame.

Also read: India's 5 greatest Paralympian


Edited by Rohit Mishra
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